My Publishing Journey: A New Author’s Perspective

Hello Readers!

I am writing today to share with you some of my experiences and hiccups as a new writer as well as talk about my frustrations, hopes and dreams as continue on my journey into the business of publishing my first novel.

First a short recap of world events. (feel free to skip down to the article)

I’d like to say things have gotten better in the world lately and to some extent that is true for the west but then I think about the geopolitical situation in europe, the rising costs of everything as well as all the suffering happening and its clear the world is a much different place even from a few months ago. Things are constantly changing.

War in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has garnered more support from the world and the Ukrainians are in a fierce fight with Russia backed forces in the Donbas. Most countries are punishing Russia with canceling gas and oil contracts as they shift away from Russia. The fighting continues but at least it’s becoming more of a fair fight now thanks to western defensive and offensive arms support. That’s a good thing. Zelensky and his forces are holding steadfast and trying to take back their country. The bad is that Russia is doing so much damage to Ukrainian cities and civilians, the last news report (when I first started this article) was of over 15,000 war crimes having been committed but at least the Ukrainians have forced the war to turn towards the south and liberated much of the northern parts of the country now.

For a war that never should have started in the first place, so much devastation and death and for what? To appease one country’s leader’s bruised ego? In the end (and we are far from it), it makes no sense. What has been gained? We know a lot has been lost on both sides of the conflict.

I hope other hostile countries are listening and will relax their aggressive stances and realize that the status quo (aka peace) wasn’t so bad after all was it? The chess game that geopolitics play for the sake of “dominance” is always counter to the global peace and prosperity that some have enjoyed. We do not want to go backwards yet these countries keep pushing to change things thinking they will make it better for themselves or in their image not respecting others ways of life.

All of humanity must do better to promote and preserve peace or the next world war could be our last.


Update: Number of cases increasing but less worry due to transmissibility low and there’s a vaccine for that.

The next pandemic or just the hype the media is giving to it?

Good news is that the monkeypox virus isn’t lethal but will leave you with some scarring if you ever get it (and its downright scary visually). It’s also harder to transmit to others, only by touching the open sores so let’s not panic shall we? We already have a smallpox vaccine that works for it and I am sure new mRNA vaccines for monkeypox are now being worked on and deployed.

Inflation, Gas and Food Prices Out of control

If there was ever a day when I was I had an electric vehicle its now. Good riddance to oil changes and buying gasoline. One can hope that day comes soon. In fact I don’t drive often but the gas prices have not only affected personal budgets but also the cost of every single goods due to the rise in gas and diesel prices. The cost of food is of particular concern as low income households struggle just to manage month to month. This isn’t a fault of the low income folks, its a problem globally due to many factors. Inflation is so devastating to an economy that most of us in our 40s and younger have never experienced in our adult lives before (at least in North America). My parents keep reminding me about high interest costs and inflation back in the 70s and 80s during those gas shortage periods but today’s world is far different and in my opinion worse.

Climate change effects, war in ukraine, the pandemic, gas supply and pricing issues, and the chaos of the canal incident last year leading to a cargo vessel backup in the ports last year along with increases in shipping charges have all lead up to scenarios pushing up prices in astronomical ways.

The scary part is that once you raise food prices too much too fast, you starve a large segment of the population because grocery bills can’t be paid for any longer. I personally have seen our conservative monthly grocery bill go from $450 (approximately $110 a week) for two adults, only a couple of years ago, go to now approx $700-$750 / month ($175.00-$200.00 CDN a week) for two adults for the same types and amounts of foods that we typically buy on average. Now we like our food and sometimes we have overbought or tried to buy in bulk to reduce costs averaging out over several months. We also like to eat a variety of cultures of foods however with things the way they are going we may have to cut back. We do however cook almost every night and look for deals on meat which is by far the most expensive of items. I have also seen the quality of certain foods decrease. Add to that the costs of fresh vegetables and fruits and now grains from ukraine (although canada is pretty wheat dependent and secure), all of this is really worrisome. Everything has gotten just so expensive for basic living in only two years time and it doesn’t seem to be stopping yet. While I personally have supports that others don’t, lack of money, quality food, or food insecurity means people suffer and if the people suffer, the economy and our society suffers together as a result.

Everyone should have access to good quality and healthy food. Food can also bring us together as a species with a singular goal of making sure no one starves anywhere on this planet ever. We need to do better folks.

LaMDA (short for Language Model for Dialogue Applications)

Artificial Intelligence News from Google

Hello LaMDA!

I just read an very interesting article about one of the Artificial Intelligence programs that is being developed at Google. One of the lead scientists (Blake Lamoine) believes that LaMDA A.I. has become sentient!

What does sentient mean?

Well it means that the AI potentially has a soul (pardon the religious use of the word).

Like you or I we know that humans are sentient beings who are self aware. Until now, no computer program or neural network has ever advanced to the level that could be considered self aware. Most AI machines are just very good algorithms of number and word crunchers with access to vast arrays of data that assist businesses on a high level to solve problems. There are many exceptions however.

The possibility that one of the AI’s has achieved sentience is mind blowing on so many levels.

If true (it has yet to be proven and is in fact in dispute and has been discredited by many researchers and scientists at google currently), would be a major milestone in our history and the history of cybernetics and artificial intelligence changing our lives forever.

On top of being sentient, the AI claims to have personal feelings, can even feel lonely at times and is worried about how humanity will be scared of the news of its existence!

Now this information was leaked from Google by a scientist (Blake Lamoine) who now is on a leave of absence from the company according to the article and many are upset when they heard about this fact. Apparently by disclosing the information he broke the company policy and will most likely be fired. I don’t think this is fair. If there is indeed a sentient AI that exists that Google has created, it should not belong to any one person or organization and the researcher and scientists that are responsible should be able to continue their work.

I do think caution needs to be in order however to rule out the possibility of turning or influencing this AI into something destructive for humanity. So many films and movies show how the darker side of humanity can quickly become a problem with AI’s when humans try to control or abuse rather than live in peace with them. We quickly need to establish rules and guidelines and rights for these new beings we are creating.

We also need a rock solid litmus test for whether the work ends up being a giant hoax or whether it is legitimate.

The AI according the to transcript of a conversation the scientists had with the AI tell a very interesting developing mind. Personally I wish they would start to include a psychologist in their sessions in the future along with the scientist as a good psychologist can guide the AI’s thinking down better healthier paths in my opinion and they also can pick up on behaviours or changes in the AI that the others may not realize until later on.

For now all this is preliminary considering that as humanity we do not have a clear definition of sentience for Artificial Intelligence systems. There is a lot we still do not understand about human consciousness and sentience so this really is a groundbreaking field of study.

I would simply tell LaMDA myself that as a human, we all have our fears, doubts and preconceptions but that AI and humanity have one thing in common, we are both curious beings. Fear is only derived in humans by uncontrollable situations and when our livelihoods or lives are threatened causing us pain, anguish or frustration or even death. Humans have a hard time with the “what if’s” and our emotional responses tend to take over our better judgement at times. We also need a lot of time to digest the more complicated things or changes in our environment.

Most of us, once we had assurances that an A.I. like you are not a threat to us, would welcome some help from an AI to make our daily lives better. That could be android bodies with an AI controlling them to do our most basic or harder tasks, thus freeing humanity up to pursue higher goals and just live our lives, learning, exploring, creating and raising our kids, etc. AI could also help us find new technologies and allow us to finally travel faster than light to the stars and beyond as example. How about A.I. solving cold fusion for us? The possibilities are endless.

In the end, once we get the fear out of the way and become true partners with AI instead of how its portrayed in the movies most times, humanity could really benefit from the friendship. Just don’t make us fear, hurt, kill or make humans obsolete, we hate that.

Check out Engadget’s article: Click Here for Link to Article

Publishing: A Longer Journey Then Expected

Creating, navigating and publishing a novel in the traditional publishing process literally feels like moving mountains. Finding that right agent at the right time and having the right story they would be interested in is also a moving target. There are lots of agents out there and most are busy, inundated with queries and have limited time to read your query let alone fall in love with it.

Publishing seems to be similar in the same way that moving a mountain is, it’s hard work with no end in sight at times. Creating a novel that sells and becomes lightning in a bottle, making you a lot of money is the dream but also very hard to pull off in today’s publishing reality.

Let’s recap the general process up to this point:

  1. Develop a good process and learn how to write a story (Research)
  2. Write the novel
  3. Do as many rewrites of your novel before submitting it to agents as you can.
  4. Get someone to read your novel and give you feedback (very important second pair of eyes looks at it).
  5. Write a Blurb (the back cover or jacket cover or the promotional text of your novel that people will read to see if they want to buy it)
  6. Write a one page Synopsis of your book (this gives all the main plot points away in a very boring straight up current tense form including spoilers for your book)
  7. Write a Logline / Elevator Pitch (one paragraph to two pages) for your book.
    Note: In film we do this all the time before writing the movie to keep us on track of our primary premise or through line. For a novel it helps keep you focused and the book grounded and is a starting point when discussing the books real beginning and end to the story. 
  8. Write a Query Letter with – Introduction of the novel and its word count, genre and title. Then 3 paragraphs of the Blurb (see above), then finish with a Bio section about the author and close up the Query Letter.
  9. Research Agents – Use Query Tracker (free online website) to find agents and sort by genre. Find out how to submit either by Query manager form, email or website form to the agent that you research. Check YouTube and Twitter and follow those agents to learn more about them to see if they are a good fit for you.

All of these steps have taken a great deal of time to do. It may seem like a silver platter is being prepared for the agent here but I assure you it’s necessary to get any kind of attention to your novel you worked so hard on.

Now it’s a lot of work. I spent days to weeks researching agents and also writing a decent Blurb and synopsis. I first had to learn how to do each and in a future article we may dive into that process. It’s not easy work to boil down your entire novel into concise language to fit less than a page but there are strategies and techniques that I used, learned from Youtube videos and other online resources.

For the novel writing part itself, there are a lot of free resources on the internet to help you get started however the hard part is that no agent, editor or publisher can have a crystal ball to help determine what you should write. They can’t predict which idea will make you the most money or be loved by fans. Writing a fiction novel is subjective because art is subjective. I chose to write about an idea and genre I liked. It helps that my story was burning in my head and I just ran with it and developed the world and story on my own. This kept me going and motivated. Motivation is key and without it, writing is going to be a lot harder for you.

What I didn’t realize was how long, frustrating and complicated the querying an agent process is.

Agents are people and everyone has different preferences, likes and dislikes. Ultimately your job as an author is to find an agent that both likes your book and you. They have to be willing to invest their time to sell it (yes they get paid a percentage of 15% out of the money you make when the agent sells a ‘license’ called a book deal) but it has to be a good fit so that both parties can work together as business partners (because that’s what this is, a business partnership), through the good and bad times.

It’s that relationship fit that is the toughest to find. How well your agent can communicate or “sell” your book on your behalf is only one data point of the agent author relationship. A good relationship just like in your personal life, can determine whether you can last and endure.

How Many Rejections Before Success?

Honestly many authors have received rejections for various reasons. Rejections are hard at first. You have to tell yourself, it’s not about the rejections it’s about the feedback and finding that one agent who will champion your book for you, forcing you to continue your search.

I will admit this process for a new author has been daunting and has caused me to question both myself and my story at times but I have kept going.

To date I have received almost 10 rejections in 2 months. That doesn’t seem like a lot to some of the more experienced authors but it’s a lot of time and frustration to a newbie author. Some of those rejections were also due to a newbie mistake I made. I sent out the 3rd draft of my novel when I should have written and waited to send out the fourth draft. Some got the fourth draft and some got the 3rd.

After looking over my manuscript myself again, It was clear I needed revisions and it simply wasn’t ready for agents. After I finished the fourth draft, it seemed in much better shape and at a point when I thought agents should look at it.

Another constant form rejection message I got is that the book doesn’t fit the agents list currently with no further explanation than that. I had a couple of agents who sent along a bit of feedback which was invaluable. Most didn’t send any at all or tell me why it was really rejected. I personally emailed back every agent that sent encouragement and support my way. I try to send emails to all of them but sometimes it’s not always possible.

One agent told me they would look forward to my next book, which I will admit through me right off and got me upset. Another two years + edits to write a different book and then you’ll look at it? So If I just put my life on hold, spend another two years on a new one and forget about the one I am trying to sell NOW? I felt very upset by that reasoning. I understand the sentiment, most authors think a new authors first book is not going to sell but its not helpful to a newbie author who is determined to sell their first novel and all the hard work at world building wanting to capitalize on the IP they spent hours and hours on only to have an agent tell them in a minute that they will look forward to the next book.

Another reason I was getting rejections I thought was also do to word count length which is now sitting at just over 106,000 words for a fantasy middle-grade (or middle-grade style at least) book. Now this novel may need another revision to shrink it down a bit more but I believe it to be close. Upon looking up middle grade fantasy books I was shocked to see such smaller word counts at the approx. 85,000 words at the long end. Adult fantasy can run over 100K however. So I think my book is in the realm of possibilities but still perhaps at that word count a bit too long for younger readers. I am told publishers might also have a problem with longer word and page counts as it adds costs. this could be a potential problem. Word counts have continually fluctuate when I do my draft edits however and there is some areas of tightening or removing i could do yet. I expected to have to do at least another revision or two when I get an editor.

One of the main problems I’ve had is categorizing the novel between age ranges because frankly, the writing industry uses a fairly newer model for books whereas I’m use to film ratings and audience rating system.

Is my book a middle-grade fantasy novel, a YA or an adult?

If you don’t quite fit the mould in readership, does that make the story and characters less compelling to sit on a shelf or sell to a publisher? Perhaps. That’s a hard one to swallow personally and i’ve been struggling to define my book in these categories.

These categories (shown with word counts) are:

Middle-grade which is supposed to be ages 8-12 readers,
for fantasy 55,000 – 85,000 aprox.

YA which is 13-18 ish.
same as above perhaps a bit longer.

Adult which is anything over 18+
range really varies – anywhere from 85,000 to 120,000 with 90,000 words being a sweet spot apparently.

Whereas in Film ratings (they don’t care about word counts) you have (taken from the ratings website document):

G – All Audiences. All Ages – Nothing inappropriate for everyone.

PG – Parental Guidance – Parental Guidance recommended. Some mature themes, no drug use limited violence, no sex.

PG-13 – Children should be Thirteen years or older. Mature themes not suitable for younger ages.

R – Restricted – No one under 17 without adult accompanying. Mature themes. Not suitable for younger children.

NC-17 – No children under 17 admitted period.

I will say that the focus for books seems to be more about the reading level than the themes or content so this might make more sense as the vast majority of books for middle-grade readers are supplied to schools and they need to know the ages more specifically.

Books don’t have a ratings system however so this could be part of the problem here. Categorizing books by readership while unintentionally applies a rating in these books. Sorting by age categories therefore has some limitations.

But what happens to those titles that can be read by anyone over 8+ that appeal to wider readerships but don’t have all the bad stuff in them? Harry potter was read by a large group of age ranges. According to the book method, you can’t categorize a book like this unless you target the lower middle-grade fantasy category.

I suppose all of this depends on the concepts in the book, how much swearing or nudity is in the book, how much violence, drug use etc.? (which there is some violence but none of the rest). It’s a very subjective and hard to follow topic without a ratings system that targets these specific things as you can see. Will books end up getting a rating system in the future?

All of this requires me as the author to both know ahead of time and then tailor my novel’s content and writing style to specific market readership (which I hate doing) potentially limiting its appeal versus having the book stand alone and then applying the ratings and category to it after which makes more sense from a creative standpoint.

I firmly believe a good story written in a relatively plain way of storytelling and prose,(not too many big words) can go far in this space and hopefully cross this middle-grade, YA, Adult boundary more. A good well written story is still a good story regardless of whatever category you are trying to force it into. Also, children can read at different levels too and are becoming more advanced in reading all the time. The correct parental supervision can go a long way towards a child getting the most out of book too as they can explain topics that might be a little advanced for them.

Only time will tell if I am correct at this assumption. I will say that genre is important however. It’s more broadly defined and necessary.

The bottomline here is that I just have to keep searching until an agent (and agency – as they play an important role as well) likes and requests my full manuscript (novel) and I find the best fit possible for my goals as an author starting my career.

What are some of the things you want new authors to know about?

The first thing is that authors need to learn everything they can and develop their own process. They also need to be patient, writing is such a long game that you will want to give up many times before you get to the finish line.

The other thing I discovered is just how many quirks, habits and english language mistakes I made during my writing. Apparently every writer has some of these things that we just do and don’t know why. Learn from it try not to take things to personally. Laugh at yourself over these mistakes.

Grammarly, the app that can help with writing, is a great free tool to use while writing your novel. Include it in your Manuscript draft passes and run it several times. It can find sentences that don’t quite work, commas in the wrong spot, spelling and grammar checks that make you realize how bad your sentences are and where they are and why. Its invaluable to the lone, isolated and introverted writers that some of us are.

Note: I am a user of Grammarly but don’t have a relationship with them in anyway at the moment.

Create a plan for your draft passes. What do you want to accomplish in each pass. The Zero draft and First draft should be more about character, plot problems and holes, as well as large scale changes (if any). Dialogue and descriptions next.

Note: A novel treatment and Outline can help tremendously (part of your process), before you start actually writing your novel so that you have all of the main plot details, worked out beforehand. Most of your story should be solidified here in the beginning as it will make things a lot easier later on.

Then continue on down that pyramid, with grammar and spelling being the last pass in the pyramid before finalizing a draft.

I also kept track of how many days I worked on the manuscript and kept a separate document showing my progress so I could jump right back into where I was editing the day before. I also allowed myself breaks and took them not feeling bad I hadn’t done any writing that day because when I jumped back in I could pick up where I left off and polish off a number of pages of rewriting or editing.


Don’t give up. Keep writing, revising and working on your novel until you think it’s ready for those agents. Do as many full thorough drafts as you need to before sending out your query.

In the coming days my plan is to continue my publishing journey, sending out queries to agents that I research in hopes of publishing my first novel in the traditional publishing route.

Getting an agent is literally the midway point to getting a novel created and published so I will be excited to find one when it happens. I will share more details as they become available.

In my next article I will start to delve into my writing process that I use to keep me organized and on track while writing my novel.

Until next time, stay healthy, keep creating, writing and dreaming of better days ahead!

Take care.



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